Catenary Being Removed From Erie Test Track

The catenary infrastructure on the former GE Transportation test track near Erie, Pennsylvania, is being removed.

Now owned by Wabtec, the 4-mile test track has had catenary since 1906. It is formally known as the East Erie Commercial Railroad.

Officials said that in recent years the catenary has suffered neglect and damage, and become a target for copper thieves.

The test track was once part of the Buffalo & Lake Erie Traction Company and has been used to test countless locomotives, including the famed GG1 electric motors of the Pennsylvania Railroad.

Wabtec will retain some of the hardware from the catenary infrastructure and has not ruled out the possibility of building electric locomotives at the Erie plant.

The electricity to the catenary system was switched off in the 1990s due to fading locomotive sales and the preference of most customers for diesel engines.

In 2016 a falling tree severed the wires. That area also was targeted by copper thieves and at one point the work of the thieves caused some wires to fall.

Inspectors also found that some of the wood poles supporting the catenary had rotted to the point that they created a potential safety hazard to crews operating on the line.

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